Bubsy, you can't pick-up, you can't throw, punch, kick, claw, scratch, bite or gouge. What's the deal?
Accolades "Bubsy: Encounters of the Furred Kind", features, well, "Bubsy the Bobcat". A true classic 16-bit platformer, (in historical terms mainly), players take control of the bobcat, and begin the challenge of defeating the "Woolies"; aliens from the planet "Rayon". Just how you defeat them is by progressing through fifteen main levels, eventually coming up against the final boss – nothing too unusual there.
The eccentricity of this game lays in its graphic design and music. Of course, this phase in video-game development, where you control some sort of anthropomorphic character on a collection-fest, typically had developers attempting to differentiate themselves from competitors. Sonic has it's "rings", Mario his "coins", and to a lesser audience, Bubsy has his "yarn-balls".
The sense of humour in this game is consistent with this taste, and each level is introduced by some sort of play-on-words spoken by none other than the Bobcat himself: "what could possibly go wrong?", or "did I mention I don't like heights?" and so forth. His voice resembles Daffy Duck's to a degree, and these little touches were reasonably impressive at the time.
The thing that kept me playing this game was its level design. There are many criticisms about them, and I must admit that they are valid; however, the appeal for me was in the many different routes one could take through the levels. The levels themselves are more than several screen-heights high (apart from the Western-themed train levels), and only multiple playing sessions would reveal the hidden pick-ups. Also, there was something satisfying about collecting those yarn-balls – I think it may be the "pop" sound which indicated a collection. (Each colour held a different point value and "pop" pitch).
Bubsy's arsenal of "offensive" manoeuvres includes jumping and gliding. That's it. You can't pick-up, you can't throw, punch, kick, claw, scratch, bite or gouge. This was a disappointment for me, especially since the cover of the game makes a particular note of showing Bubsy's paws. But, what can you do? As in other games in this genre (Super Mario World, Donkey Kong Country, Aladdin, etc.) you move through levels collecting items and wiping out enemies by landing a jump on them.
Bubsy's main complaint (or so I have read), is that he far too easy to kill. You can be killed by the slightest touch of a Woolie, or an off-screen enemy will hurl an egg (yes, a freakin' egg) at you, or you'll run straight into a stretch of water. These are undeniably frustrating, but I believe it is offset fairly well by the stock of nine lives Bubsy has, as well as his ability to glide past most of the trouble. That is this games ultimate choice; you either collect and kill carefully, or you run and avoid – you can't do both.
Visually, this game was above standard, but, as with all classic sprite-based platformers, is starting to show its age. Bubsy's animation is suitable, but the various enemies and subjects of interaction are nothing too exciting. It's worth noting that the overall presentation is fairly bright and cheery, but quite garish and washed-out at times also. Functional and bright is the best I could say.
The Bottom Line
I think this one is worth a go. It's no Donkey Kong Country, (it's a third-party game), so I believe that Megadrive's limitations may of held this one back a little. There are memorable moments, and, I can even remember the music to this day. Bubsy did add to platform-game history fairly honourably.